London bomb blast hurts 29
LONDON (Reuters) – A home-made bomb on a packed rush-hour commuter train in London engulfed a carriage in flames and injured 29 people on Friday, but apparently failed to fully explode, in Britain’s fifth major terrorism incident this year.
Passengers heading into the British capital fled in panic after the blast as the train was about to depart Parsons Green station in West London at 8:20 a.m. (0720 GMT).
Some suffered burns and others were injured in a stampede to escape the station, one of the above-ground stops on the underground “Tube” network, but health officials said none were thought to be in a serious condition.
“We are chasing down suspects,” said Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley. “Somebody has planted this improvised explosive device on the Tube: we have to be open-minded at this stage about him and about potential associates.”
Hundreds of detectives and intelligence officials were involved in the manhunt. Rowley declined to say if the suspected bomber had been on the train.
Prime Minister Theresa May returned to London to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency response committee. She called the incident a “cowardly attack” and said the national threat level had been raised a notch to its highest level, “critical”.
The Islamic State militant group, which has said it was behind several attacks on Western cities in recent years, including two attacks in London and one in Manchester this year, claimed responsibility through its news agency, Amaq.
It was impossible to verify the claim, for which Amaq offered no evidence. Western intelligence officials have questioned similar claims in the past, saying that while Islamic State’s jihadist ideology may have inspired some attackers, there is scant evidence that it has orchestrated attacks.
“It is very routine in these sort of circumstances for IS to claim responsibility, whether or not they have had any previous engagement with the individuals involved,” Rowley said.